Treetop Learning Center

The Treetop Learning Center is a multi-use classroom dedicated to our First School science classes and Build-It Lab. Lessons are coordinated by Sharon Kraynak, Key’s First School science teacher.

The Treetop Learning Center is organized into various stations, each offering a different means for encouraging students to tackle developmentally appropriate challenges, while promoting creative problem solving skills, sensory and fine motor skills, and collaborative skills. Stations include a Rigamajig, a magnetic wall, a light table, student tables, and a carpet area.

Rigamajig

The Rigamajig is a large-scale building kit designed by Cas Holman for hands-on free play, where children are encouraged to create, discover and learn using only their imaginations. A collection of wooden planks, wheels, pulleys, nuts, bolts, and ropes allow children to follow their curiosity wherever it leads them. There are no right or wrong ways to use this equipment. The Rigamajig:

  • Strengthens fine motor skills as the children attach the various collection pieces using nuts and bolts;
  • Strengthens gross motor skills as children bend, lift and hold in place heavier pieces while attaching them to the wooden planks;
  • Strengthens problem solving skills;
  • Supports learning cooperation and teamwork;
  • Promotes social skills and executive functioning such as waiting and taking turns;
  • Promotes communication and verbal skills.

Sample Challenges:

  • Build something that has a hook
  • Build a box that will hold something
  • Make two gears move at the same time

Magnetic Wall

The magnetic wall encourages hands-on learning and building. For children who are fascinated with building things, this adds an additional challenge of building off a vertical surface. Magnetic ramps, blocks, and “recycle-ables” help the children:

  • Collaborate and work together;
  • Think critically and creatively;
  • Communicate with each other;
  • Strengthen both fine and gross motor skills;
  • Strengthen math skills by making patterns and identifying shapes, analytical thinking, number sense, representation, and spatial awareness.

Sample Challenges:

  • Build something that a ball can roll down and then switch directions
  • Build a ramp that will guide a ball into a container
  • Build a pattern using two colors, three colors, different shapes

Light Tables

Light tables support children in sensory development, encourage growth and nurture their curiosity, helping children develop a variety of necessary competencies. Children can build vertically and horizontally using transparent materials. The light table:

  • Encourages social interaction and interpersonal development;
  • Develops fine motor skills, such as grip strength and finger coordination;
  • Strengthens creativity and communication skills.

Sample Challenges:

  • Build a ramp that a ball can roll down using transparent blocks, cups and lids
  • Build something that an animal can hide under

Table Activities

Table activities encourage and strengthen language, physical and social skills for children. Each of these areas are dependent on and influence the other areas. Using materials like natural wood blocks, tree cookies or legos help children design, build and make structures. Table activities help:

  • Strengthen vocabulary
  • Support interpersonal actions such as learning to share and take turns with materials
  • Encourage creativity
  • Strengthen fine motor skills

Sample Challenges:

  • Build something that can fly
  • Build a creature

Carpet Area

The carpet area can be used for whole or small group work. Activities are planned so students can ask questions, make plans, improve ideas, share developments, and communicate information. It also gives students an opportunity to reflect upon the reasoning behind their predictions and results.